Friday, August 26, 2005

Routers, switches, and hubs, oh my!

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CNET Community help and how-to weekly newsletter
August 26, 2005
Dear CNET members,
Before I get started on this week's topic, I would like to welcome all of you who are new subscribers to the CNET Community Newsletter. If you're wondering what the newsletter's Q&A is all about, you can get up to speed by checking out the Q&A submission guidelines. Once you're onboard, I look forward to seeing your participation. Now let's move on to this week's topic.

When you're new to the networking world, the terminologies and hardware involved can be quite daunting, but no worries--you're in good hands. This week, I received some absolutely fantastic and detailed explanations about Andrew's question concerning routers, switches, and hubs. And I can't thank our members enough for your time and effort in helping out another member. We had a tough time picking one winning answer this week, so rather than one winner, we have three: Gary (four-time winner), Pete (two-time winner), and Greg (first-time winner)! While many of this week's submissions, which include the honorable mentions and other recommendations, do overlap in details, dig in and read them all! I'm sure by the time you go through most of them, the confusion of routers, hubs, and switches will be a thing of the past. Thank you all for your participation, and if you have any additional details you would like to share, come on in and join us in this week's discussion.

Lee Koo
Manager, CNET community

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Member Question of the Week
Q I'm trying to connect three PCs in my home in order to share my DSL Internet access. In my research, I keep reading about routers, switches, and hubs. I can't make heads or tails out of it. What's the difference? Do I need all of them? Don't some of them have firewalls built in, or do I need one for each computer? The machines are running Windows XP. Thanks.
Submitted by: Andrew C. of Lawrence, Kansas

Answer by Gary: Andrew, networking can seem very confusing at first because it brings with it a new set of terms and concepts. But once you get the facts straight, everything starts to make sense. In order to tell you more about hubs, switches and routers, I’m going to introduce some technical concepts. This may... Submitted by: Gary P. of Atlanta, Georgia

Answer by Pete: It's fairly simple, actually. You would need a bit of an understanding of how TCP/IP works to make sense of it. Everything done on the Net may seem like a seamless stream of information, but it's not. Everything is broken down into packets that are a fixed length and format. Each... Submitted by: Pete Z. of Los Angeles, California

Answer by Greg: Routers, switches, and hubs, oh my!!! It's all so confusing, but let's try to break it down just a bit here. First of all, let's look at the basics of how networked computers communicate with each other. Now everyone, please keep in mind, I am trying to keep this simple and straightforward for everyone to understand... Submitted by: Greg H. of Southern California
Please click the following links for this week's:
Honorable mentions
Other advice from our members
For Gary, Pete, and Greg's efforts, we're sending them a choice of any Learning CD.
Community Buzz
Each week we take a look at topics discussed in the forums.
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Check out next week's question:
Q I am running Windows XP SP1 and wonder if it is really necessary to upgrade to SP2. I keep up with the critical upgrades from Microsoft, but they keep on bugging me to install SP2. I use ZoneAlarm, AVG AntiVirus, and several antispyware programs. I also am behind a Linksys router with a firewall. Do I really need to install SP2, and what are the benefits? If you say it is necessary to move forward to SP2, are there any specific things I need to do to my computer before upgrading?
--Submitted by: John T. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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